Friday, August 27, 2010

Granite Quarry for the Salt Lake Temple

In 1860 the Granite Quarry in Little Cottonwood started operation.  Construction of the Salt Lake Temple had begun with the laying of the cornerstones for the foundation in 1853 but in 1857 with the coming of Johnston's Army the foundation of Red Butte Sandstone was covered and all activity at the site hidden.

Plans called for the foundation to be of sandstone and the walls to be build of Granite, however after the Army left in 1861 and the foundation uncovered it was found to be defective.  So it was decided to tear out the  sandstone foundation and replace it with Granite.  

The Quarry operations had started just the year before and were working very hard to provide the Granite to build with.

The quarry men used hand tools to cut and break the Granite into blocks that could be shipped.  In order to break the boulders into workable sizes holes were drilled along a line that had been placed with a chalk line.  Holes were drilled at about 3-6 inch intervals along the line and about 6 inches deep.  

One man would hold a 16 inch star drill while another would hit the drill with an 8 pound hammer.  (The holder must have a trust in the hammerer, I would think.)  A two man team like this could drill about 1 hole every 2 hours, that means in a 10 hour shift they could drill 5 holes.  

After the holes were drilled then wedges were driven in along the holes until the granite cracked and split along the line of the holes and that would continue until they were the size that was needed.  

Then using logs and levers the Granite blocks were loaded on wagons for the trip to Salt Lake.  With the coming of the railroad the hauling part of this process became much easier and much faster.  

There were 3 types of laborers who worked in the quarries.  There were teamsters who hauled the Granite to Salt Lake.  Then the common laborers who were sent from the surrounding wards and would come for a week to 10 days at a time.  There was also skilled quarrymen and stone masons who worked at the quarry and also the Temple site.  

There were usually 40-80 men working in the quarry and they worked 10 hour days.  

With the coming of the railroad the hauling of the Granite was much easier and the quarry work moved to a site higher in the canyon where a better supply of Granite was found.  With the laying of the capstone on the Temple in 1892 the Quarry was closed.  

However the quarry  was reopened just after 1900 in order to quarry the stone for the construction of the Utah State Capitol Building.  Then it was opened again for the building of This is the Place Monument.  
The quarry has been opened one more time in recent years to provide the stone for the New Conference Center.    

4 comments:

  1. Great Historical spot to visit- Very Interesting to see the sacrifice people mad to build the temple.

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